Herodotus – Histories


remember what men have done; prevent the great and wonderful actions of the greeks and barbarians from losing their due meed of glory.

only foolish men care about women.

the cities which were firmly great have most of them become insignificant; and such as are at present powerful; were weak in the olden time. i shall therefore discourse equally of both; convinced that human happiness never continues long in one stay.

old cities which were firmly great have become insignificant.

powerful cities now; were once weak in old times.

All was then prepared for the attack, and when night fell, Gyges,
seeing that he had no retreat or escape, but must absolutely either
slay Candaules, or himself be slain, followed his mistress into the
sleeping-room. She placed a dagger in his hand and hid him carefully
behind the self-same door. Then Gyges, when the king was fallen asleep,
entered privily into the chamber and struck him dead. Thus did the
wife and kingdom of Candaules pass into the possession of Gyges, of
whom Archilochus the Parian, who lived about the same time, made mention
in a poem written in iambic trimeter verse.

Gyges was afterwards confirmed in the possession of the throne by
an answer of the Delphic oracle. Enraged at the murder of their king,
the people flew to arms, but after a while the partisans of Gyges
came to terms with them, and it was agreed that if the Delphic oracle
declared him king of the Lydians, he should reign; if otherwise, he
should yield the throne to the Heraclides. As the oracle was given
in his favour he became king. The Pythoness, however, added that,
in the fifth generation from Gyges, vengeance should come for the
Heraclides; a prophecy of which neither the Lydians nor their princes
took any account till it was fulfilled. Such was the way in which
the Mermnadae deposed the Heraclides, and themselves obtained the

When Gyges was established on the throne, he sent no small presents
to Delphi, as his many silver offerings at the Delphic shrine testify.
Besides this silver he gave a vast number of vessels of gold, among
which the most worthy of mention are the goblets, six in number, and
weighing altogether thirty talents, which stand in the Corinthian
treasury, dedicated by him. I call it the Corinthian treasury, though
in strictness of speech it is the treasury not of the whole Corinthian
people, but of Cypselus, son of Eetion. Excepting Midas, son of Gordias,
king of Phrygia, Gyges was the first of the barbarians whom we know
to have sent offerings to Delphi. Midas dedicated the royal throne
whereon he was accustomed to sit and administer justice, an object
well worth looking at. It lies in the same place as the goblets presented
by Gyges. The Delphians call the whole of the silver and the gold
which Gyges dedicated, after the name of the donor, Gygian.

As soon as Gyges was king he made an in-road on Miletus and Smyrna,
and took the city of Colophon. Afterwards, however, though he reigned
eight and thirty years, he did not perform a single noble exploit.
I shall therefore make no further mention of him, but pass on to his
son and successor in the kingdom, Ardys.

Ardys took Priene and made war upon Miletus. In his reign the Cimmerians,
driven from their homes by the nomads of Scythia, entered Asia and
captured Sardis, all but the citadel. He reigned forty-nine years,
and was succeeded by his son, Sadyattes, who reigned twelve years.
At his death his son Alyattes mounted the throne.

This prince waged war with the Medes under Cyaxares, the grandson
of Deioces, drove the Cimmerians out of Asia, conquered Smyrna, the
Colophonian colony, and invaded Clazomenae. From this last contest
he did not come off as he could have wished, but met with a sore defeat;
still, however, in the course of his reign, he performed other actions
very worthy of note, of which I will now proceed to give an account.

Inheriting from his father a war with the Milesians, he pressed the
siege against the city by attacking it in the following manner. When
the harvest was ripe on the ground he marched his army into Milesia
to the sound of pipes and harps, and flutes masculine and feminine.
The buildings that were scattered over the country he neither pulled
down nor burnt, nor did he even tear away the doors, but left them
standing as they were. He cut down, however, and utterly destroyed
all the trees and all the corn throughout the land, and then returned
to his own dominions. It was idle for his army to sit down before
the place, as the Milesians were masters of the sea. The reason that
he did not demolish their buildings was that the inhabitants might
be tempted to use them as homesteads from which to go forth to sow
and till their lands; and so each time that he invaded the country
he might find something to plunder.

In this way he carried on the war with the Milesians for eleven years,
in the course of which he inflicted on them two terrible blows; one
in their own country in the district of Limeneium, the other in the
plain of the Maeander. During six of these eleven years, Sadyattes,
the son of Ardys who first lighted the flames of this war, was king
of Lydia, and made the incursions. Only the five following years belong
to the reign of Alyattes, son of Sadyattes, who (as I said before)
inheriting the war from his father, applied himself to it unremittingly.
The Milesians throughout the contest received no help at all from
any of the Ionians, excepting those of Chios, who lent them troops
in requital of a like service rendered them in former times, the Milesians
having fought on the side of the Chians during the whole of the war
between them and the people of Erythrae.

It was in the twelfth year of the war that the following mischance
occurred from the firing of the harvest-fields. Scarcely had the corn
been set alight by the soldiers when a violent wind carried the flames
against the temple of Minerva Assesia, which caught fire and was burnt
to the ground. At the time no one made any account of the circumstance;
but afterwards, on the return of the army to Sardis, Alyattes fell
sick. His illness continued, whereupon, either advised thereto by
some friend, or perchance himself conceiving the idea, he sent messengers
to Delphi to inquire of the god concerning his malady. On their arrival
the Pythoness declared that no answer should be given them until they
had rebuilt the temple of Minerva, burnt by the Lydians at Assesus
in Milesia.

Thus much I know from information given me by the Delphians; the remainder
of the story the Milesians add.

The answer made by the oracle came to the ears of Periander, son of
Cypselus, who was a very close friend to Thrasybulus, tyrant of Miletus
at that period. He instantly despatched a messenger to report the
oracle to him, in order that Thrasybulus, forewarned of its tenor,
might the better adapt his measures to the posture of affairs.

Alyattes, the moment that the words of the oracle were reported to
him, sent a herald to Miletus in hopes of concluding a truce with
Thrasybulus and the Milesians for such a time as was needed to rebuild
the temple. The herald went upon his way; but meantime Thrasybulus
had been apprised of everything; and conjecturing what Alyattes would
do, he contrived this artifice. He had all the corn that was in the
city, whether belonging to himself or to private persons, brought
into the market-place, and issued an order that the Milesians should
hold themselves in readiness, and, when he gave the signal, should,
one and all, fall to drinking and revelry.

The purpose for which he gave these orders was the following. He hoped
that the Sardian herald, seeing so great store of corn upon the ground,
and all the city given up to festivity, would inform Alyattes of it,
which fell out as he anticipated. The herald observed the whole, and
when he had delivered his message, went back to Sardis. This circumstance
alone, as I gather, brought about the peace which ensued. Alyattes,
who had hoped that there was now a great scarcity of corn in Miletus,
and that the people were worn down to the last pitch of suffering,
when he heard from the herald on his return from Miletus tidings so
contrary to those he had expected, made a treaty with the enemy by
which the two nations became close friends and allies. He then built
at Assesus two temples to Minerva instead of one, and shortly after
recovered from his malady. Such were the chief circumstances of the
war which Alyattes waged with Thrasybulus and the Milesians.

This Periander, who apprised Thrasybulus of the oracle, was son of
Cypselus, and tyrant of Corinth. In his time a very wonderful thing
is said to have happened. The Corinthians and the Lesbians agree in
their account of the matter. They relate that Arion of Methymna, who
as a player on the harp, was second to no man living at that time,
and who was, so far as we know, the first to invent the dithyrambic
measure, to give it its name, and to recite in it at Corinth, was
carried to Taenarum on the back of a dolphin.

He had lived for many years at the court of Periander, when a longing
came upon him to sail across to Italy and Sicily. Having made rich
profits in those parts, he wanted to recross the seas to Corinth.
He therefore hired a vessel, the crew of which were Corinthians, thinking
that there was no people in whom he could more safely confide; and,
going on board, he set sail from Tarentum. The sailors, however, when
they reached the open sea, formed a plot to throw him overboard and
seize upon his riches. Discovering their design, he fell on his knees,
beseeching them to spare his life, and making them welcome to his
money. But they refused; and required him either to kill himself outright,
if he wished for a grave on the dry land, or without loss of time
to leap overboard into the sea. In this strait Arion begged them,
since such was their pleasure, to allow him to mount upon the quarter-deck,
dressed in his full costume, and there to play and sing, and promising
that, as soon as his song was ended, he would destroy himself. Delighted
at the prospect of hearing the very best harper in the world, they
consented, and withdrew from the stern to the middle of the vessel:
while Arion dressed himself in the full costume of his calling, took
his harp, and standing on the quarter-deck, chanted the Orthian. His
strain ended, he flung himself, fully attired as he was, headlong
into the sea. The Corinthians then sailed on to Corinth. As for Arion,
a dolphin, they say, took him upon his back and carried him to Taenarum,
where he went ashore, and thence proceeded to Corinth in his musician’s
dress, and told all that had happened to him. Periander, however,
disbelieved the story, and put Arion in ward, to prevent his leaving
Corinth, while he watched anxiously for the return of the mariners.
On their arrival he summoned them before him and asked them if they
could give him any tiding of Arion. They returned for answer that
he was alive and in good health in Italy, and that they had left him
at Tarentum, where he was doing well. Thereupon Arion appeared before
them, just as he was when he jumped from the vessel: the men, astonished
and detected in falsehood, could no longer deny their guilt. Such
is the account which the Corinthians and Lesbians give; and there
is to this day at Taenarum, an offering of Arion’s at the shrine,
which is a small figure in bronze, representing a man seated upon
a dolphin.

Having brought the war with the Milesians to a close, and reigned
over the land of Lydia for fifty-seven years, Alyattes died. He was
the second prince of his house who made offerings at Delphi. His gifts,
which he sent on recovering from his sickness, were a great bowl of
pure silver, with a salver in steel curiously inlaid, a work among
all the offerings at Delphi the best worth looking at. Glaucus, the
Chian, made it, the man who first invented the art of inlaying steel.

On the death of Alyattes, Croesus, his son, who was thirty-five years
old, succeeded to the throne. Of the Greek cities, Ephesus was the
first that he attacked. The Ephesians, when he laid siege to the place,
made an offering of their city to Diana, by stretching a rope from
the town wall to the temple of the goddess, which was distant from
the ancient city, then besieged by Croesus, a space of seven furlongs.
They were, as I said, the first Greeks whom he attacked. Afterwards,
on some pretext or other, he made war in turn upon every Ionian and
Aeolian state, bringing forward, where he could, a substantial ground
of complaint; where such failed him, advancing some poor excuse.

In this way he made himself master of all the Greek cities in Asia,
and forced them to become his tributaries; after which he began to
think of building ships, and attacking the islanders. Everything had
been got ready for this purpose, when Bias of Priene (or, as some
say, Pittacus the Mytilenean) put a stop to the project. The king
had made inquiry of this person, who was lately arrived at Sardis,
if there were any news from Greece; to which he answered, “Yes, sire,
the islanders are gathering ten thousand horse, designing an expedition
against thee and against thy capital.” Croesus, thinking he spake
seriously, broke out, “Ah, might the gods put such a thought into
their minds as to attack the sons of the Lydians with cavalry!” “It
seems, oh! king,” rejoined the other, “that thou desirest earnestly
to catch the islanders on horseback upon the mainland,- thou knowest
well what would come of it. But what thinkest thou the islanders desire
better, now that they hear thou art about to build ships and sail
against them, than to catch the Lydians at sea, and there revenge
on them the wrongs of their brothers upon the mainland, whom thou
holdest in slavery?” Croesus was charmed with the turn of the speech;
and thinking there was reason in what was said, gave up his ship-building
and concluded a league of amity with the Ionians of the isles.

Croesus afterwards, in the course of many years, brought under his
sway almost all the nations to the west of the Halys. The Lycians
and Cilicians alone continued free; all the other tribes he reduced
and held in subjection. They were the following: the Lydians, Phrygians,
Mysians, Mariandynians, Chalybians, Paphlagonians, Thynian and Bithynian
Thracians, Carians, Ionians, Dorians, Aeolians and Pamphylians.

When all these conquests had been added to the Lydian empire, and
the prosperity of Sardis was now at its height, there came thither,
one after another, all the sages of Greece living at the time, and
among them Solon, the Athenian. He was on his travels, having left
Athens to be absent ten years, under the pretence of wishing to see
the world, but really to avoid being forced to repeal any of the laws
which, at the request of the Athenians, he had made for them. Without
his sanction the Athenians could not repeal them, as they had bound
themselves under a heavy curse to be governed for ten years by the
laws which should be imposed on them by Solon.

On this account, as well as to see the world, Solon set out upon his
travels, in the course of which he went to Egypt to the court of Amasis,
and also came on a visit to Croesus at Sardis. Croesus received him
as his guest, and lodged him in the royal palace. On the third or
fourth day after, he bade his servants conduct Solon. over his treasuries,
and show him all their greatness and magnificence. When he had seen
them all, and, so far as time allowed, inspected them, Croesus addressed
this question to him. “Stranger of Athens, we have heard much of thy
wisdom and of thy travels through many lands, from love of knowledge
and a wish to see the world. I am curious therefore to inquire of
thee, whom, of all the men that thou hast seen, thou deemest the most
happy?” This he asked because he thought himself the happiest of mortals:
but Solon answered him without flattery, according to his true sentiments,
“Tellus of Athens, sire.” Full of astonishment at what he heard, Croesus
demanded sharply, “And wherefore dost thou deem Tellus happiest?”
To which the other replied, “First, because his country was flourishing
in his days, and he himself had sons both beautiful and good, and
he lived to see children born to each of them, and these children
all grew up; and further because, after a life spent in what our people
look upon as comfort, his end was surpassingly glorious. In a battle
between the Athenians and their neighbours near Eleusis, he came to
the assistance of his countrymen, routed the foe, and died upon the
field most gallantly. The Athenians gave him a public funeral on the
spot where he fell, and paid him the highest honours.”

Thus did Solon admonish Croesus by the example of Tellus, enumerating
the manifold particulars of his happiness. When he had ended, Croesus
inquired a second time, who after Tellus seemed to him the happiest,
expecting that at any rate, he would be given the second place. “Cleobis
and Bito,” Solon answered; “they were of Argive race; their fortune
was enough for their wants, and they were besides endowed with so
much bodily strength that they had both gained prizes at the Games.
Also this tale is told of them:- There was a great festival in honour
of the goddess Juno at Argos, to which their mother must needs be
taken in a car. Now the oxen did not come home from the field in time:
so the youths, fearful of being too late, put the yoke on their own
necks, and themselves drew the car in which their mother rode. Five
and forty furlongs did they draw her, and stopped before the temple.
This deed of theirs was witnessed by the whole assembly of worshippers,
and then their life closed in the best possible way. Herein, too,
God showed forth most evidently, how much better a thing for man death
is than life. For the Argive men, who stood around the car, extolled
the vast strength of the youths; and the Argive women extolled the
mother who was blessed with such a pair of sons; and the mother herself,
overjoyed at the deed and at the praises it had won, standing straight
before the image, besought the goddess to bestow on Cleobis and Bito,
the sons who had so mightily honoured her, the highest blessing to
which mortals can attain. Her prayer ended, they offered sacrifice
and partook of the holy banquet, after which the two youths fell asleep
in the temple. They never woke more, but so passed from the earth.
The Argives, looking on them as among the best of men, caused statues
of them to be made, which they gave to the shrine at Delphi.”

When Solon had thus assigned these youths the second place, Croesus
broke in angrily, “What, stranger of Athens, is my happiness, then,
so utterly set at nought by thee, that thou dost not even put me on
a level with private men?”

“Oh! Croesus,” replied the other, “thou askedst a question concerning
the condition of man, of one who knows that the power above us is
full of jealousy, and fond of troubling our lot. A long life gives
one to witness much, and experience much oneself, that one would not
choose. Seventy years I regard as the limit of the life of man. In
these seventy years are contained, without reckoning intercalary months,
twenty-five thousand and two hundred days. Add an intercalary month
to every other year, that the seasons may come round at the right
time, and there will be, besides the seventy years, thirty-five such
months, making an addition of one thousand and fifty days. The whole
number of the days contained in the seventy years will thus be twenty-six
thousand two hundred and fifty, whereof not one but will produce events
unlike the rest. Hence man is wholly accident. For thyself, oh! Croesus,
I see that thou art wonderfully rich, and art the lord of many nations;
but with respect to that whereon thou questionest me, I have no answer
to give, until I hear that thou hast closed thy life happily. For
assuredly he who possesses great store of riches is no nearer happiness
than he who has what suffices for his daily needs, unless it so hap
that luck attend upon him, and so he continue in the enjoyment of
all his good things to the end of life. For many of the wealthiest
men have been unfavoured of fortune, and many whose means were moderate
have had excellent luck. Men of the former class excel those of the
latter but in two respects; these last excel the former in many. The
wealthy man is better able to content his desires, and to bear up
against a sudden buffet of calamity. The other has less ability to
withstand these evils (from which, however, his good luck keeps him
clear), but he enjoys all these following blessings: he is whole of
limb, a stranger to disease, free from misfortune, happy in his children,
and comely to look upon. If, in addition to all this, he end his life
well, he is of a truth the man of whom thou art in search, the man
who may rightly be termed happy. Call him, however, until he die,
not happy but fortunate. Scarcely, indeed, can any man unite all these
advantages: as there is no country which contains within it all that
it needs, but each, while it possesses some things, lacks others,
and the best country is that which contains the most; so no single
human being is complete in every respect- something is always lacking.
He who unites the greatest number of advantages, and retaining them
to the day of his death, then dies peaceably, that man alone, sire,
is, in my judgment, entitled to bear the name of ‘happy.’ But in every
matter it behoves us to mark well the end: for oftentimes God gives
men a gleam of happiness, and then plunges them into ruin.”

Such was the speech which Solon addressed to Croesus, a speech which
brought him neither largess nor honour. The king saw him depart with
much indifference, since he thought that a man must be an arrant fool
who made no account of present good, but bade men always wait and
mark the end.

After Solon had gone away a dreadful vengeance, sent of God, came
upon Croesus, to punish him, it is likely, for deeming himself the
happiest of men. First he had a dream in the night, which foreshowed
him truly the evils that were about to befall him in the person of
his son. For Croesus had two sons, one blasted by a natural defect,
being deaf and dumb; the other, distinguished far above all his co-mates
in every pursuit. The name of the last was Atys. It was this son concerning
whom he dreamt a dream that he would die by the blow of an iron weapon.
When he woke, he considered earnestly with himself, and, greatly alarmed
at the dream, instantly made his son take a wife, and whereas in former
years the youth had been wont to command the Lydian forces in the
field, he now would not suffer him to accompany them. All the spears
and javelins, and weapons used in the wars, he removed out of the
male apartments, and laid them in heaps in the chambers of the women,
fearing lest perhaps one of the weapons that hung against the wall
might fall and strike him.

Now it chanced that while he was making arrangements for the wedding,
there came to Sardis a man under a misfortune, who had upon him the
stain of blood. He was by race a Phrygian, and belonged to the family
of the king. Presenting himself at the palace of Croesus, he prayed
to be admitted to purification according to the customs of the country.
Now the Lydian method of purifying is very nearly the same as the
Greek. Croesus granted the request, and went through all the customary
rites, after which he asked the suppliant of his birth and country,
addressing him as follows:- “Who art thou, stranger, and from what
part of Phrygia fleddest thou to take refuge at my hearth? And whom,
moreover, what man or what woman, hast thou slain?” “Oh! king,” replied
the Phrygian, “I am the son of Gordias, son of Midas. I am named Adrastus.
The man I unintentionally slew was my own brother. For this my father
drove me from the land, and I lost all. Then fled I here to thee.”
“Thou art the offspring,” Croesus rejoined, “of a house friendly to
mine, and thou art come to friends. Thou shalt want for nothing so
long as thou abidest in my dominions. Bear thy misfortune as easily
as thou mayest, so will it go best with thee.” Thenceforth Adrastus
lived in the palace of the king.

It chanced that at this very same time there was in the Mysian Olympus
a huge monster of a boar, which went forth often from this mountain
country, and wasted the corn-fields of the Mysians. Many a time had
the Mysians collected to hunt the beast, but instead of doing him
any hurt, they came off always with some loss to themselves. At length
they sent ambassadors to Croesus, who delivered their message to him
in these words: “Oh! king, a mighty monster of a boar has appeared
in our parts, and destroys the labour of our hands. We do our best
to take him, but in vain. Now therefore we beseech thee to let thy
son accompany us back, with some chosen youths and hounds, that we
may rid our country of the animal.” Such was the tenor of their prayer.

But Croesus bethought him of his dream, and answered, “Say no more
of my son going with you; that may not be in any wise. He is but just
joined in wedlock, and is busy enough with that. I will grant you
a picked band of Lydians, and all my huntsmen and hounds; and I will
charge those whom I send to use all zeal in aiding you to rid your
country of the brute.”

With this reply the Mysians were content; but the king’s son, hearing
what the prayer of the Mysians was, came suddenly in, and on the refusal
of Croesus to let him go with them, thus addressed his father: “Formerly,
my father, it was deemed the noblest and most suitable thing for me
to frequent the wars and hunting-parties, and win myself glory in
them; but now thou keepest me away from both, although thou hast never
beheld in me either cowardice or lack of spirit. What face meanwhile
must I wear as I walk to the forum or return from it? What must the
citizens, what must my young bride think of me? What sort of man will
she suppose her husband to be? Either, therefore, let me go to the
chase of this boar, or give me a reason why it is best for me to do
according to thy wishes.”

Then Croesus answered, “My son, it is not because I have seen in thee
either cowardice or aught else which has displeased me that I keep
thee back; but because a vision which came before me in a dream as
I slept, warned me that thou wert doomed to die young, pierced by
an iron weapon. It was this which first led me to hasten on thy wedding,
and now it hinders me from sending thee upon this enterprise. Fain
would I keep watch over thee, if by any means I may cheat fate of
thee during my own lifetime. For thou art the one and only son that
I possess; the other, whose hearing is destroyed, I regard as if he
were not.”

“Ah! father,” returned the youth, “I blame thee not for keeping watch
over me after a dream so terrible; but if thou mistakest, if thou
dost not apprehend the dream aright, ’tis no blame for me to show
thee wherein thou errest. Now the dream, thou saidst thyself, foretold
that I should die stricken by an iron weapon. But what hands has a
boar to strike with? What iron weapon does he wield? Yet this is what
thou fearest for me. Had the dream said that I should die pierced
by a tusk, then thou hadst done well to keep me away; but it said
a weapon. Now here we do not combat men, but a wild animal. I pray
thee, therefore, let me go with them.”

“There thou hast me, my son,” said Croesus, “thy interpretation is
better than mine. I yield to it, and change my mind, and consent to
let thee go.”

Then the king sent for Adrastus, the Phrygian, and said to him, “Adrastus,
when thou wert smitten with the rod of affliction- no reproach, my
friend- I purified thee, and have taken thee to live with me in my
palace, and have been at every charge. Now, therefore, it behoves
thee to requite the good offices which thou hast received at my hands
by consenting to go with my son on this hunting party, and to watch
over him, if perchance you should be attacked upon the road by some
band of daring robbers. Even apart from this, it were right for thee
to go where thou mayest make thyself famous by noble deeds. They are
the heritage of thy family, and thou too art so stalwart and strong.”

Adrastus answered, “Except for thy request, Oh! king, I would rather
have kept away from this hunt; for methinks it ill beseems a man under
a misfortune such as mine to consort with his happier compeers; and
besides, I have no heart to it. On many grounds I had stayed behind;
but, as thou urgest it, and I am bound to pleasure thee (for truly
it does behove me to requite thy good offices), I am content to do
as thou wishest. For thy son, whom thou givest into my charge, be
sure thou shalt receive him back safe and sound, so far as depends
upon a guardian’s carefulness.”

Thus assured, Croesus let them depart, accompanied by a band of picked
youths, and well provided with dogs of chase. When they reached Olympus,
they scattered in quest of the animal; he was soon found, and the
hunters, drawing round him in a circle, hurled their weapons at him.
Then the stranger, the man who had been purified of blood, whose name
was Adrastus, he also hurled his spear at the boar, but missed his
aim, and struck Atys. Thus was the son of Croesus slain by the point
of an iron weapon, and the warning of the vision was fulfilled. Then
one ran to Sardis to bear the tidings to the king, and he came and
informed him of the combat and of the fate that had befallen his son.

If it was a heavy blow to the father to learn that his child was dead,
it yet more strongly affected him to think that the very man whom
he himself once purified had done the deed. In the violence of his
grief he called aloud on Jupiter Catharsius to be a witness of what
he had suffered at the stranger’s hands. Afterwards he invoked the
same god as Jupiter Ephistius and Hetaereus- using the one term because
he had unwittingly harboured in his house the man who had now slain
his son; and the other, because the stranger, who had been sent as
his child’s guardian, had turned out his most cruel enemy.

Presently the Lydians arrived, bearing the body of the youth, and
behind them followed the homicide. He took his stand in front of the
corse, and, stretching forth his hands to Croesus, delivered himself
into his power with earnest entreaties that he would sacrifice him
upon the body of his son- “his former misfortune was burthen enough;
now that he had added to it a second, and had brought ruin on the
man who purified him, he could not bear to live.” Then Croesus, when
he heard these words, was moved with pity towards Adrastus, notwithstanding
the bitterness of his own calamity; and so he answered, “Enough, my
friend; I have all the revenge that I require, since thou givest sentence
of death against thyself. But in sooth it is not thou who hast injured
me, except so far as thou hast unwittingly dealt the blow. Some god
is the author of my misfortune, and I was forewarned of it a long
time ago.” Croesus after this buried the body of his son, with such
honours as befitted the occasion. Adrastus, son of Gordias, son of
Midas, the destroyer of his brother in time past, the destroyer now
of his purifier, regarding himself as the most unfortunate wretch
whom he had ever known, so soon as all was quiet about the place,
slew himself upon the tomb. Croesus, bereft of his son, gave himself
up to mourning for two full years.

At the end of this time the grief of Croesus was interrupted by intelligence
from abroad. He learnt that Cyrus, the son of Cambyses, had destroyed
the empire of Astyages, the son of Cyaxares; and that the Persians
were becoming daily more powerful. This led him to consider with himself
whether it were possible to check the growing power of that people
before it came to a head. With this design he resolved to make instant
trial of the several oracles in Greece, and of the one in Libya. So
he sent his messengers in different directions, some to Delphi, some
to Abae in Phocis, and some to Dodona; others to the oracle of Amphiaraus;
others to that of Trophonius; others, again, to Branchidae in Milesia.
These were the Greek oracles which he consulted. To Libya he sent
another embassy, to consult the oracle of Ammon. These messengers
were sent to test the knowledge of the oracles, that, if they were
found really to return true answers, he might send a second time,
and inquire if he ought to attack the Persians.

The messengers who were despatched to make trial of the oracles were
given the following instructions: they were to keep count of the days
from the time of their leaving Sardis, and, reckoning from that date,
on the hundredth day they were to consult the oracles, and to inquire
of them what Croesus the son of Alyattes, king of Lydia, was doing
at that moment. The answers given them were to be taken down in writing,
and brought back to him. None of the replies remain on record except
that of the oracle at Delphi. There, the moment that the Lydians entered
the sanctuary, and before they put their questions, the Pythoness
thus answered them in hexameter verse:-

I can count the sands, and I can measure the ocean;
I have ears for the silent, and know what the dumb man meaneth;

Lo! on my sense there striketh the smell of a shell-covered

Boiling now on a fire, with the flesh of a lamb, in a cauldron-

Brass is the vessel below, and brass the cover above it.

These words the Lydians wrote down at the mouth of the Pythoness as
she prophesied, and then set off on their return to Sardis. When all
the messengers had come back with the answers which they had received,
Croesus undid the rolls, and read what was written in each. Only one
approved itself to him, that of the Delphic oracle. This he had no
sooner heard than he instantly made an act of adoration, and accepted
it as true, declaring that the Delphic was the only really oracular
shrine, the only one that had discovered in what way he was in fact
employed. For on the departure of his messengers he had set himself
to think what was most impossible for any one to conceive of his doing,
and then, waiting till the day agreed on came, he acted as he had
determined. He took a tortoise and a lamb, and cutting them in pieces
with his own hands, boiled them both together in a brazen cauldron,
covered over with a lid which was also of brass.

Such then was the answer returned to Croesus from Delphi. What the
answer was which the Lydians who went to the shrine of Amphiarans
and performed the customary rites obtained of the oracle there, I
have it not in my power to mention, for there is no record of it.
All that is known is that Croesus believed himself to have found there
also an oracle which spoke the truth.

After this Croesus, having resolved to propitiate the Delphic god
with a magnificent sacrifice, offered up three thousand of every kind
of sacrificial beast, and besides made a huge pile, and placed upon
it couches coated with silver and with gold, and golden goblets, and
robes and vests of purple; all which he burnt in the hope of thereby
making himself more secure of the favour of the god. Further he issued
his orders to all the people of the land to offer a sacrifice according
to their means. When the sacrifice was ended, the king melted down
a vast quantity of gold, and ran it into ingots, making them six palms
long, three palms broad, and one palm in thickness. The number of
ingots was a hundred and seventeen, four being of refined gold, in
weight two talents and a half; the others of pale gold, and in weight
two talents. He also caused a statue of a lion to be made in refined
gold, the weight of which was ten talents. At the time when the temple
of Delphi was burnt to the ground, this lion fell from the ingots
on which it was placed; it now stands in the Corinthian treasury,
and weighs only six talents and a half, having lost three talents
and a half by the fire.

On the completion of these works Croesus sent them away to Delphi,
and with them two bowls of an enormous size, one of gold, the other
of silver, which used to stand, the latter upon the right, the former
upon the left, as one entered the temple. They too were moved at the
time of the fire; and now the golden one is in the Clazomenian treasury,
and weighs eight talents and forty-two minae; the silver one stands
in the corner of the ante-chapel, and holds six hundred amphorae.
This is known because the Delphians fill it at the time of the Theophania.
It is said by the Delphians to be a work of Theodore the Samian, and
I think that they say true, for assuredly it is the work of no common
artist. Croesus sent also four silver casks, which are in the Corinthian
treasury, and two lustral vases, a golden and a silver one. On the
former is inscribed the name of the Lacedaemonians, and they claim
it as a gift of theirs, but wrongly, since it was really given by
Croesus. The inscription upon it was cut by a Delphian, who wished
to pleasure the Lacedaemonians. His name is known to me, but I forbear
to mention it. The boy, through whose hand the water runs, is (I confess)
a Lacedaemonian gift, but they did not give either of the lustral
vases. Besides these various offerings, Croesus sent to Delphi many
others of less account, among the rest a number of round silver basins.
Also he dedicated a female figure in gold, three cubits high, which
is said by the Delphians to be the statue of his baking-woman; and
further, he presented the necklace and the girdles of his wife.

These were the offerings sent by Croesus to Delphi. To the shrine
of Amphiaraus, with whose valour and misfortune he was acquainted,
he sent a shield entirely of gold, and a spear, also of solid gold,
both head and shaft. They were still existing in my day at Thebes,
laid up in the temple of Ismenian Apollo.

The messengers who had the charge of conveying these treasures to
the shrines, received instructions to ask the oracles whether Croesus
should go to war with the Persians and if so, whether he should strengthen
himself by the forces of an ally. Accordingly, when they had reached
their destinations and presented the gifts, they proceeded to consult
the oracles in the following terms:- “Croesus, of Lydia and other
countries, believing that these are the only real oracles in all the
world, has sent you such presents as your discoveries deserved, and
now inquires of you whether he shall go to war with the Persians,
and if so, whether he shall strengthen himself by the forces of a
confederate.” Both the oracles agreed in the tenor of their reply,
which was in each case a prophecy that if Croesus attacked the Persians,
he would destroy a mighty empire, and a recommendation to him to look
and see who were the most powerful of the Greeks, and to make alliance
with them.

At the receipt of these oracular replies Croesus was overjoyed, and
feeling sure now that he would destroy the empire of the Persians,
he sent once more to Pytho, and presented to the Delphians, the number
of whom he had ascertained, two gold staters apiece. In return for
this the Delphians granted to Croesus and the Lydians the privilege
of precedency in consulting the oracle, exemption from all charges,
the most honourable seat at the festivals, and the perpetual right
of becoming at pleasure citizens of their town.

After sending these presents to the Delphians, Croesus a third time
consulted the oracle, for having once proved its truthfulness, he
wished to make constant use of it. The question whereto he now desired
an answer was- “Whether his kingdom would be of long duration?” The
following was the reply of the Pythoness:-

Wait till the time shall come when a mule is monarch of Media;

Then, thou delicate Lydian, away to the pebbles of Hermus;

Haste, oh! haste thee away, nor blush to behave like a coward.

Of all the answers that had reached him, this pleased him far the
best, for it seemed incredible that a mule should ever come to be
king of the Medes, and so he concluded that the sovereignty would
never depart from himself or his seed after him. Afterwards he turned
his thoughts to the alliance which he had been recommended to contract,
and sought to ascertain by inquiry which was the most powerful of
the Grecian states. His inquiries pointed out to him two states as
pre-eminent above the rest. These were the Lacedaemonians and the
Athenians, the former of Doric, the latter of Ionic blood. And indeed
these two nations had held from very, early times the most distinguished
place in Greece, the being a Pelasgic, the other a Hellenic people,
and the one having never quitted its original seats, while the other
had been excessively migratory; for during the reign of Deucalion,
Phthiotis was the country in which the Hellenes dwelt, but under Dorus,
the son of Hellen, they moved to the tract at the base of Ossa and
Olympus, which is called Histiaeotis; forced to retire from that region
by the Cadmeians, they settled, under the name of Macedni, in the
chain of Pindus. Hence they once more removed and came to Dryopis;
and from Dryopis having entered the Peloponnese in this way, they
became known as Dorians.

What the language of the Pelasgi was I cannot say with any certainty.
If, however, we may form a conjecture from the tongue spoken by the
Pelasgi of the present day- those, for instance, who live at Creston
above the Tyrrhenians, who formerly dwelt in the district named Thessaliotis,
and were neighbours of the people now called the Dorians- or those
again who founded Placia and Scylace upon the Hellespont, who had
previously dwelt for some time with the Athenians- or those, in short,
of any other of the cities which have dropped the name but are in
fact Pelasgian; if, I say, we are to form a conjecture from any of
these, we must pronounce that the Pelasgi spoke a barbarous language.
If this were really so, and the entire Pelasgic race spoke the same
tongue, the Athenians, who were certainly Pelasgi, must have changed
their language at the same time that they passed into the Hellenic
body; for it is a certain fact that the people of Creston speak a
language unlike any of their neighbours, and the same is true of the
Placianians, while the language spoken by these two people is the
same; which shows that they both retain the idiom which they brought
with them into the countries where they are now settled.

The Hellenic race has never, since its first origin, changed its speech.
This at least seems evident to me. It was a branch of the Pelasgic,
which separated from the main body, and at first was scanty in numbers
and of little power; but it gradually spread and increased to a multitude
of nations, chiefly by the voluntary entrance into its ranks of numerous
tribes of barbarians. The Pelasgi, on the other hand, were, as I think,
a barbarian race which never greatly multiplied.

On inquiring into the condition of these two nations, Croesus found
that one, the Athenian, was in a state of grievous oppression and
distraction under Pisistratus, the son of Hippocrates, who was at
that time tyrant of Athens. Hippocrates, when he was a private citizen,
is said to have gone once upon a time to Olympia to see the Games,
when a wonderful prodigy happened to him. As he was employed in sacrificing,
the cauldrons which stood near, full of water and of the flesh of
the victims, began to boil without the help of fire, so that the water
overflowed the pots. Chilon the Lacedaemonian, who happened to be
there and to witness the prodigy, advised Hippocrates, if he were
unmarried, never to take into his house a wife who could bear him
a child; if he already had one, to send her back to her friends; if
he had a son, to disown him. Chilon’s advice did not at all please
Hippocrates, who disregarded it, and some time after became the father
of Pisistratus. This Pisistratus, at a time when there was civil contention
in Attica between the party of the Sea-coast headed by Megacles the
son of Alcmaeon, and that of the Plain headed by Lycurgus, one of
the Aristolaids, formed the project of making himself tyrant, and
with this view created a third party. Gathering together a band of
partisans, and giving himself out for the protector of the Highlanders,
he contrived the following stratagem. He wounded himself and his mules,
and then drove his chariot into the market-place, professing to have
just escaped an attack of his enemies, who had attempted his life
as he was on his way into the country. He besought the people to assign
him a guard to protect his person, reminding them of the glory which
he had gained when he led the attack upon the Megarians, and took
the town of Nisaea, at the same time performing many other exploits.
The Athenians, deceived by his story, appointed him a band of citizens
to serve as a guard, who were to carry clubs instead of spears, and
to accompany him wherever he went. Thus strengthened, Pisistratus
broke into revolt and seized the citadel. In this way he acquired
the sovereignty of Athens, which he continued to hold without disturbing
the previously existing offices or altering any of the laws. He administered
the state according to the established usages, and his arrangements
were wise and salutary.

However, after a little time, the partisans of Megacles and those
of Lycurgus agreed to forget their differences, and united to drive
him out. So Pisistratus, having by the means described first made
himself master of Athens, lost his power again before it had time
to take root. No sooner, however, was he departed than the factions
which had driven him out quarrelled anew, and at last Megacles, wearied
with the struggle, sent a herald to Pisistratus, with an offer to
re-establish him on the throne if he would marry his daughter. Pisistratus
consented, and on these terms an agreement was concluded between the
two, after which they proceeded to devise the mode of his restoration.
And here the device on which they hit was the silliest that I find
on record, more especially considering that the Greeks have been from
very ancient times distinguished from the barbarians by superior sagacity
and freedom from foolish simpleness, and remembering that the persons
on whom this trick was played were not only Greeks but Athenians,
who have the credit of surpassing all other Greeks in cleverness.
There was in the Paeanian district a woman named Phya, whose height
only fell short of four cubits by three fingers’ breadth, and who
was altogether comely to look upon. This woman they clothed in complete
armour, and, instructing her as to the carriage which she was to maintain
in order to beseem her part, they placed her in a chariot and drove
to the city. Heralds had been sent forward to precede her, and to
make proclamation to this effect: “Citizens of Athens, receive again
Pisistratus with friendly minds. Minerva, who of all men honours him
the most, herself conducts him back to her own citadel.” This they
proclaimed in all directions, and immediately the rumour spread throughout
the country districts that Minerva was bringing back her favourite.
They of the city also, fully persuaded that the woman was the veritable
goddess, prostrated themselves before her, and received Pisistratus

Pisistratus, having thus recovered the sovereignty, married, according
to agreement, the daughter of Megacles. As, however, he had already
a family of grown up sons, and the Alcmaeonidae were supposed to be
under a curse, he determined that there should be no issue of the
marriage. His wife at first kept this matter to herself, but after
a time, either her mother questioned her, or it may be that she told
it of her own accord. At any rate, she informed her mother, and so
it reached her father’s ears. Megacles, indignant at receiving an
affront from such a quarter, in his anger instantly made up his differences
with the opposite faction, on which Pisistratus, aware of what was
planning against him, took himself out of the country. Arrived at
Eretria, he held a council with his children to decide what was to
be done. The opinion of Hippias prevailed, and it was agreed to aim
at regaining the sovereignty. The first step was to obtain advances
of money from such states as were under obligations to them. By these
means they collected large sums from several countries, especially
from the Thebans, who gave them far more than any of the rest. To
be brief, time passed, and all was at length got ready for their return.
A band of Argive mercenaries arrived from the Peloponnese, and a certain
Naxian named Lygdamis, who volunteered his services, was particularly
zealous in the cause, supplying both men and money.

In the eleventh year of their exile the family of Pisistratus set
sail from Eretria on their return home. They made the coast of Attica,
near Marathon, where they encamped, and were joined by their partisans
from the capital and by numbers from the country districts, who loved
tyranny better than freedom. At Athens, while Pisistratus was obtaining
funds, and even after he landed at Marathon, no one paid any attention
to his proceedings. When, however, it became known that he had left
Marathon, and was marching upon the city, preparations were made for
resistance, the whole force of the state was levied, and led against
the returning exiles. Meantime the army of Pisistratus, which had
broken up from Marathon, meeting their adversaries near the temple
of the Pallenian Minerva, pitched their camp opposite them. Here a
certain soothsayer, Amphilytus by name, an Acarnanian, moved by a
divine impulse, came into the presence of Pisistratus, and approaching
him uttered this prophecy in the hexameter measure:-

Now has the cast been made, the net is out-spread in the water,

Through the moonshiny night the tunnies will enter the meshes.

Such was the prophecy uttered under a divine inspiration. Pisistratus,
apprehending its meaning, declared that he accepted the oracle, and
instantly led on his army. The Athenians from the city had just finished
their midday meal, after which they had betaken themselves, some to
dice, others to sleep, when Pisistratus with his troops fell upon
them and put them to the rout. As soon as the flight began, Pisistratus
bethought himself of a most wise contrivance, whereby the might be
induced to disperse and not unite in a body any more. He mounted his
sons on horseback and sent them on in front to overtake the fugitives,
and exhort them to be of good cheer, and return each man to his home.
The Athenians took the advice, and Pisistratus became for the third
time master of Athens.

Upon this he set himself to root his power more firmly, by the aid
of a numerous body of mercenaries, and by keeping up a full exchequer,
partly supplied from native sources, partly from the countries about
the river Strymon. He also demanded hostages from many of the Athenians
who had remained at home, and not left Athens at his approach; and
these he sent to Naxos, which he had conquered by force of arms, and
given over into the charge of Lygdamis. Farther, he purified the island
of Delos, according to the injunctions of an oracle, after the following
fashion. All the dead bodies which had been interred within sight
of the temple he dug up, and removed to another part of the isle.
Thus was the tyranny of Pisistratus established at Athens, many of
the Athenians having fallen in the battle, and many others having
fled the country together with the son of Alcmaeon.

Such was the condition of the Athenians when Croesus made inquiry
concerning them. Proceeding to seek information concerning the Lacedaemonians,
he learnt that, after passing through a period of great depression,
they had lately been victorious in a war with the people of Tegea;
for, during the joint reign of Leo and Agasicles, kings of Sparta,
the Lacedaemonians, successful in all their other wars, suffered continual
defeat at the hands of the Tegeans. At a still earlier period they
had been the very worst governed people in Greece, as well in matters
of internal management as in their relations towards foreigners, from
whom they kept entirely aloof. The circumstances which led to their
being well governed were the following:- Lycurgus, a man of distinction
among the Spartans, had gone to Delphi, to visit the oracle. Scarcely
had he entered into the inner fane, when the Pythoness exclaimed aloud,

Oh! thou great Lycurgus, that com’st to my beautiful dwelling,

Dear to love, and to all who sit in the halls of Olympus,

Whether to hail thee a god I know not, or only a mortal,

But my hope is strong that a god thou wilt prove, Lycurgus. Some report
besides, that the Pythoness delivered to him the entire system of
laws which are still observed by the Spartans. The Lacedaemonians,
however. themselves assert that Lycurgus, when he was guardian of
his nephew, Labotas, king of Sparta, and regent in his room, introduced
them from Crete; for as soon as he became regent, he altered the whole
of the existing customs, substituting new ones, which he took care
should be observed by all. After this he arranged whatever appertained
to war, establishing the Enomotiae, Triacades, and Syssitia, besides
which he instituted the senate,’ and the ephoralty. Such was the way
in which the Lacedaemonians became a well-governed people.

On the death of Lycurgus they built him a temple, and ever since they
have worshipped him with the utmost reverence. Their soil being good
and the population numerous, they sprang up rapidly to power, and
became a flourishing people. In consequence they soon ceased to be
satisfied to stay quiet; and, regarding the Arcadians as very much
their inferiors, they sent to consult the oracle about conquering
the whole of Arcadia. The Pythoness thus answered them:

Cravest thou Arcady? Bold is thy craving. I shall not content it.

Many the men that in Arcady dwell, whose food is the acorn-

They will never allow thee. It is not I that am niggard.

I will give thee to dance in Tegea, with noisy foot-fall,

And with the measuring line mete out the glorious champaign. When
the Lacedaemonians received this reply, leaving the rest of Arcadia
untouched, they marched against the Tegeans, carrying with them fetters,
so confident had this oracle (which was, in truth, but of base metal)
made them that they would enslave the Tegeans. The battle, however,
went against them, and many fell into the enemy’s hands. Then these
persons, wearing the fetters which they had themselves brought, and
fastened together in a string, measured the Tegean plain as they executed
their labours. The fetters in which they worked were still, in my
day, preserved at Tegea where they hung round the walls of the temple
of Minerva Alea.

Throughout the whole of this early contest with the Tegeans, the Lacedaemonians
met with nothing but defeats; but in the time of Croesus, under the
kings Anaxandrides and Aristo, fortune had turned in their favour,
in the manner which I will now relate. Having been worsted in every
engagement by their enemy, they sent to Delphi, and inquired of the
oracle what god they must propitiate to prevail in the war against
the Tegeans. The answer of the Pythoness was that before they could
prevail, they must remove to Sparta the bones of Orestes, the son
of Agamemnon. Unable to discover his burial-place, they sent a second
time, and asked the god where the body of the hero had been laid.
The following was the answer they received:-

Level and smooth is the plain where Arcadian Tegea standeth;

There two winds are ever, by strong necessity, blowing,
Counter-stroke answers stroke, and evil lies upon evil.
There all-teeming Earth doth harbour the son of Atrides;

Bring thou him to thy city, and then be Tegea’s master. After this
reply, the Lacedaemonians were no nearer discovering the burial-place
than before, though they continued to search for it diligently; until
at last a man named Lichas, one of the Spartans called Agathoergi,
found it. The Agathoergi are citizens who have just served their time
among the knights. The five eldest of the knights go out every year,
and are bound during the year after their discharge to go wherever
the State sends them, and actively employ themselves in its service.

Lichas was one of this body when, partly by good luck, partly by his
own wisdom, he discovered the burial-place. Intercourse between the
two States existing just at this time, he went to Tegea, and, happening
to enter into the workshop of a smith, he saw him forging some iron.
As he stood marvelling at what he beheld, he was observed by the smith
who, leaving off his work, went up to him and said,

“Certainly, then, you Spartan stranger, you would have been wonderfully
surprised if you had seen what I have, since you make a marvel even
of the working in iron. I wanted to make myself a well in this room,
and began to dig it, when what think you? I came upon a coffin seven
cubits long. I had never believed that men were taller in the olden
times than they are now, so I opened the coffin. The body inside was
of the same length: I measured it, and filled up the hole again.”

Such was the man’s account of what he had seen. The other, on turning
the matter over in his mind, conjectured that this was the body of
Orestes, of which the oracle had spoken. He guessed so, because he
observed that the smithy had two bellows, which he understood to be
the two winds, and the hammer and anvil would do for the stroke and
the counterstroke, and the iron that was being wrought for the evil
lying upon evil. This he imagined might be so because iron had been
discovered to the hurt of man. Full of these conjectures, he sped
back to Sparta and laid the whole matter before his countrymen. Soon
after, by a concerted plan, they brought a charge against him, and
began a prosecution. Lichas betook himself to Tegea, and on his arrival
acquainted the smith with his misfortune, and proposed to rent his
room of him. The smith refused for some time; but at last Lichas persuaded
him, and took up his abode in it. Then he opened the grave, and collecting
the bones, returned with them to Sparta. From henceforth, whenever
the Spartans and the Tegeans made trial of each other’s skill in arms,
the Spartans always had greatly the advantage; and by the time to
which we are now come they were masters of most of the Peloponnese.

Croesus, informed of all these circumstances, sent messengers to Sparta,
with gifts in their hands, who were to ask the Spartans to enter into
alliance with him. They received strict injunctions as to what they
should say, and on their arrival at Sparta spake as follows:-

“Croesus, king of the Lydians and of other nations, has sent us to
speak thus to you: ‘Oh Lacedaemonians, the god has bidden me to make
the Greek my friend; I therefore apply to you, in conformity with
the oracle, knowing that you hold the first rank in Greece, and desire
to become your friend and ally in all true faith and honesty.'”

Such was the message which Croesus sent by his heralds. The Lacedaemonians,
who were aware beforehand of the reply given him by the oracle, were
full of joy at the coming of the messengers, and at once took the
oaths of friendship and alliance: this they did the more readily as
they had previously contracted certain obligations towards him. They
had sent to Sardis on one occasion to purchase some gold, intending
to use it on a statue of Apollo- the statue, namely, which remains
to this day at Thornax in Laconia, when Croesus, hearing of the matter,
gave them as a gift the gold which they wanted.

This was one reason why the Lacedaemonians were so willing to make
the alliance: another was, because Croesus had chosen them for his
friends in preference to all the other Greeks. They therefore held
themselves in readiness to come at his summons, and not content with
so doing, they further had a huge vase made in bronze, covered with
figures of animals all round the outside of the rim, and large enough
to contain three hundred amphorae, which they sent to Croesus as a
return for his presents to them. The vase, however, never reached
Sardis. Its miscarriage is accounted for in two quite different ways.
The Lacedaemonian story is that when it reached Samos, on its way
towards Sardis, the Samians having knowledge of it, put to sea in
their ships of war and made it their prize. But the Samians declare
that the Lacedaemonians who had the vase in charge, happening to arrive
too late, and learning that Sardis had fallen and that Croesus was
a prisoner, sold it in their island, and the purchasers (who were,
they say, private persons) made an offering of it at the shrine of
Juno: the sellers were very likely on their return to Sparta to have
said that they had been robbed of it by the Samians. Such, then, was
the fate of the vase.

Meanwhile Croesus, taking the oracle in a wrong sense, led his forces
into Cappadocia, fully expecting to defeat Cyrus and destroy the empire
of the Persians. While he was still engaged in making preparations
for his attack, a Lydian named Sandanis, who had always been looked
upon as a wise man, but who after this obtained a very great name
indeed among his countrymen, came forward and counselled the king
in these words:

“Thou art about, oh! king, to make war against men who wear leathern
trousers, and have all their other garments of leather; who feed not
on what they like, but on what they can get from a soil that is sterile
and unkindly; who do not indulge in wine, but drink water; who possess
no figs nor anything else that is good to eat. If, then, thou conquerest
them, what canst thou get from them, seeing that they have nothing
at all? But if they conquer thee, consider how much that is precious
thou wilt lose: if they once get a taste of our pleasant things, they
will keep such hold of them that we shall never be able to make them
loose their grasp. For my part, I am thankful to the gods that they
have not put it into the hearts of the Persians to invade Lydia.”

Croesus was not persuaded by this speech, though it was true enough;
for before the conquest of Lydia, the Persians possessed none of the
luxuries or delights of life.

The Cappadocians are known to the Greeks by the name of Syrians. Before
the rise of the Persian power, they had been subject to the Medes;
but at the present time they were within the empire of Cyrus, for
the boundary between the Median and the Lydian empires was the river
Halys. This stream, which rises in the mountain country of Armenia,
runs first through Cilicia; afterwards it flows for a while with the
Matieni on the right, and the Phrygians on the left: then, when they
are passed, it proceeds with a northern course, separating the Cappadocian
Syrians from the Paphlagonians, who occupy the left bank, thus forming
the boundary of almost the whole of Lower Asia, from the sea opposite
Cyprus to the Euxine. Just there is the neck of the peninsula, a journey
of five days across for an active walker.

There were two motives which led Croesus to attack Cappadocia: firstly,
he coveted the land, which he wished to add to his own dominions;
but the chief reason was that he wanted to revenge on Cyrus the wrongs
of Astyages, and was made confident by the oracle of being able so
to do: for Astyages, son of Cyaxares and king of the Medes, who had
been dethroned by Cyrus, son of Cambyses, was Croesus’ brother by
marriage. This marriage had taken place under circumstances which
I will now relate. A band of Scythian nomads, who had left their own
land on occasion of some disturbance, had taken refuge in Media. Cyaxares,
son of Phraortes, and grandson of Deioces, was at that time king of
the country. Recognising them as suppliants, he began by treating
them with kindness, and coming presently to esteem them highly, he
intrusted to their care a number of boys, whom they were to teach
their language and to instruct in the use of the bow. Time passed,
and the Scythians employed themselves, day after day, in hunting,
and always brought home some game; but at last it chanced that one
day they took nothing. On their return to Cyaxares with empty hands,
that monarch, who was hot-tempered, as he showed upon the occasion,
received them very rudely and insultingly. In consequence of this
treatment, which they did not conceive themselves to have deserved,
the Scythians determined to take one of the boys whom they had in
charge, cut him in pieces, and then dressing the flesh as they were
wont to dress that of the wild animals, serve it up to Cyaxares as
game: after which they resolved to convey themselves with all speed
to Sardis, to the court of Alyattes, the son of Sadyattes. The plan
was carried out: Cyaxares and his guests ate of the flesh prepared
by the Scythians, and they themselves, having accomplished their purpose,
fled to Alyattes in the guise of suppliants.

Afterwards, on the refusal of Alyattes to give up his suppliants when
Cyaxares sent to demand them of him, war broke out between the Lydians
and the Medes, and continued for five years, with various success.
In the course of it the Medes gained many victories over the Lydians,
and the Lydians also gained many victories over the Medes. Among their
other battles there was one night engagement. As, however, the balance
had not inclined in favour of either nation, another combat took place
in the sixth year, in the course of which, just as the battle was
growing warm, day was on a sudden changed into night. This event had
been foretold by Thales, the Milesian, who forewarned the Ionians
of it, fixing for it the very year in which it actually took place.
The Medes and Lydians, when they observed the change, ceased fighting,
and were alike anxious to have terms of peace agreed on. Syennesis
of Cilicia, and Labynetus of Babylon, were the persons who mediated
between the parties, who hastened the taking of the oaths, and brought
about the exchange of espousals. It was they who advised that Alyattes
should give his daughter Aryenis in marriage to Astyages, the son
of Cyaxares, knowing, as they did, that without some sure bond of
strong necessity, there is wont to be but little security in men’s
covenants. Oaths are taken by these people in the same way as by the
Greeks, except that they make a slight flesh wound in their arms,
from which each sucks a portion of the other’s blood.

Cyrus had captured this Astyages, who was his mother’s father, and
kept him prisoner, for a reason which I shall bring forward in another
of my history. This capture formed the ground of quarrel between Cyrus
and Croesus, in consequence of which Croesus sent his servants to
ask the oracle if he should attack the Persians; and when an evasive
answer came, fancying it to be in his favour, carried his arms into
the Persian territory. When he reached the river Halys, he transported
his army across it, as I maintain, by the bridges which exist there
at the present day; but, according to the general belief of the Greeks,
by the aid of Thales the Milesian. The tale is that Croesus was in
doubt how he should get his army across, as the bridges were not made
at that time, and that Thales, who happened to be in the camp, divided
the stream and caused it to flow on both sides of the army instead
of on the left only. This he effected thus:- Beginning some distance
above the camp, he dug a deep channel, which he brought round in a
semicircle, so that it might pass to rearward of the camp; and that
thus the river, diverted from its natural course into the new channel
at the point where this left the stream, might flow by the station
of the army, and afterwards fall again into the ancient bed. In this
way the river was split into two streams, which were both easily fordable.
It is said by some that the water was entirely drained off from the
natural bed of the river. But I am of a different opinion; for I do
not see how, in that case, they could have crossed it on their return.

Having passed the Halys with the forces under his command, Croesus
entered the district of Cappadocia which is called Pteria. It lies
in the neighbourhood of the city of Sinope upon the Euxine, and is
the strongest position in the whole country thereabouts. Here Croesus
pitched his camp, and began to ravage the fields of the Syrians. He
besieged and took the chief city of the Pterians, and reduced the
inhabitants to slavery: he likewise made himself master of the surrounding
villages. Thus he brought ruin on the Syrians, who were guilty of
no offence towards him. Meanwhile, Cyrus had levied an army and marched
against Croesus, increasing his numbers at every step by the forces
of the nations that lay in his way. Before beginning his march he
had sent heralds to the Ionians, with an invitation to them to revolt
from the Lydian king: they, however, had refused compliance. Cyrus,
notwithstanding, marched against the enemy, and encamped opposite
them in the district of Pteria, where the trial of strength took place
between the contending powers. The combat was hot and bloody, and
upon both sides the number of the slain was great; nor had victory
declared in favour of either party, when night came down upon the
battle-field. Thus both armies fought valiantly.

Croesus laid the blame of his ill success on the number of his troops,
which fell very short of the enemy; and as on the next day Cyrus did
not repeat the attack, he set off on his return to Sardis, intending
to collect his allies and renew the contest in the spring. He meant
to call on the Egyptians to send him aid, according to the terms of
the alliance which he had concluded with Amasis, previously to his
league with the Lacedaemonians. He intended also to summon to his
assistance the Babylonians, under their king Labynetus, for they too
were bound to him by treaty: and further, he meant to send word to
Sparta, and appoint a day for the coming of their succours. Having
got together these forces in addition to his own, he would, as soon
as the winter was past and springtime come, march once more against
the Persians. With these intentions Croesus, immediately on his return,
despatched heralds to his various allies, with a request that they
would join him at Sardis in the course of the fifth month from the
time of the departure of his messengers. He then disbanded the army
consisting of mercenary troops- which had been engaged with the Persians
and had since accompanied him to his capital, and let them depart
to their homes, never imagining that Cyrus, after a battle in which
victory had been so evenly balanced, would venture to march upon Sardis.

While Croesus was still in this mind, all the suburbs of Sardis were
found to swarm with snakes, on the appearance of which the horses
left feeding in the pasture-grounds, and flocked to the suburbs to
eat them. The king, who witnessed the unusual sight, regarded it very
rightly as a prodigy. He therefore instantly sent messengers to the
soothsayers of Telmessus, to consult them upon the matter, His messengers
reached the city, and obtained from the Telmessians an explanation
of what the prodigy portended, but fate did not allow them to inform
their lord; for ere they entered Sardis on their return, Croesus was
a prisoner. What the Telmessians had declared was that Croesus must
look for the entry of an army of foreign invaders into his country,
and that when they came they would subdue the native inhabitants;
since the snake, said they, is a child of earth, and the horse a warrior
and a foreigner. Croesus was already a prisoner when the Telmessians
thus answered his inquiry, but they had no knowledge of what was taking
place at Sardis, or of the fate of the monarch.

Cyrus, however, when Croesus broke up so suddenly from his quarters
after the battle at Pteria, conceiving that he had marched away with
the intention of disbanding his army, considered a little, and soon
saw that it was advisable for him to advance upon Sardis with all
haste, before the Lydians could get their forces together a second
time. Having thus determined, he lost no time in carrying out his
plan. He marched forward with such speed that he was himself the first
to announce his coming to the Lydian king. That monarch, placed in
the utmost difficulty by the turn of events which had gone so entirely
against all his calculations, nevertheless led out the Lydians to
battle. In all Asia there was not at that time a braver or more warlike
people. Their manner of fighting was on horseback; they carried long
lances, and were clever in the management of their steeds.

The two armies met in the plain before Sardis. It is a vast flat,
bare of trees, watered by the Hyllus and a number of other streams,
which all flow into one larger than the rest, called the Hermus. This
river rises in the sacred mountain of the Dindymenian Mother, and
falls into the sea near the town of Phocaea.

When Cyrus beheld the Lydians arranging themselves in order of battle
on this plain, fearful of the strength of their cavalry, he adopted
a device which Harpagus, one of the Medes, suggested to him. He collected
together all the camels that had come in the train of his army to
carry the provisions and the baggage, and taking off their loads,
he mounted riders upon them accoutred as horsemen. These he commanded
to advance in front of his other troops against the Lydian horse;
behind them were to follow the foot soldiers, and last of all the
cavalry. When his arrangements were complete, he gave his troops orders
to slay all the other Lydians who came in their way without mercy,
but to spare Croesus and not kill him, even if he should be seized
and offer resistance. The reason why Cyrus opposed his camels to the
enemy’s horse was because the horse has a natural dread of the camel,
and cannot abide either the sight or the smell of that animal. By
this stratagem he hoped to make Croesus’s horse useless to him, the
horse being what he chiefly depended on for victory. The two armies
then joined battle, and immediately the Lydian war-horses, seeing
and smelling the camels, turned round and galloped off; and so it
came to pass that all Croesus’s hopes withered away. The Lydians,
however, behaved manfully. As soon as they understood what was happening,
they leaped off their horses, and engaged with the Persians on foot.
The combat was long; but at last, after a great slaughter on both
sides, the Lydians turned and fled. They were driven within their
walls and the Persians laid siege to Sardis.

Thus the siege began. Meanwhile Croesus, thinking that the place would
hold out no inconsiderable time, sent off fresh heralds to his allies
from the beleaguered town. His former messengers had been charged
to bid them assemble at Sardis in the course of the fifth month; they
whom he now sent were to say that he was already besieged, and to
beseech them to come to his aid with all possible speed. Among his
other allies Croesus did not omit to send to Lacedaemon.

It chanced, however, that the Spartans were themselves just at this
time engaged in a quarrel with the Argives about a place called Thyrea,
which was within the limits of Argolis, but had been seized on by
the Lacedaemonians. Indeed, the whole country westward, as far as
Cape Malea, belonged once to the Argives, and not only that entire
tract upon the mainland, but also Cythera, and the other islands.
The Argives collected troops to resist the seizure of Thyrea, but
before any battle was fought, the two parties came to terms, and it
was agreed that three hundred Spartans and three hundred Argives should
meet and fight for the place, which should belong to the nation with
whom the victory rested. It was stipulated also that the other troops
on each side should return home to their respective countries, and
not remain to witness the combat, as there was danger, if the armies
stayed, that either the one or the other, on seeing their countrymen
undergoing defeat, might hasten to their assistance. These terms being
agreed on, the two armies marched off, leaving three hundred picked
men on each side to fight for the territory. The battle began, and
so equal were the combatants, that at the close of the day, when night
put a stop to the fight, of the whole six hundred only three men remained
alive, two Argives, Alcanor and Chromius, and a single Spartan, Othryadas.
The two Argives, regarding themselves as the victors, hurried to Argos.
Othryadas, the Spartan, remained upon the field, and, stripping the
bodies of the Argives who had fallen, carried their armour to the
Spartan camp. Next day the two armies returned to learn the result.
At first they disputed, both parties claiming the victory, the one,
because they had the greater number of survivors; the other, because
their man remained on the field, and stripped the bodies of the slain,
whereas the two men of the other side ran away; but at last they fell
from words to blows, and a battle was fought, in which both parties
suffered great loss, but at the end the Lacedaemonians gained the
victory. Upon this the Argives, who up to that time had worn their
hair long, cut it off close, and made a law, to which they attached
a curse, binding themselves never more to let their hair grow, and
never to allow their women to wear gold, until they should recover
Thyrea. At the same time the Lacedaemonians made a law the very reverse
of this, namely, to wear their hair long, though they had always before
cut it close. Othryadas himself, it is said, the sole survivor of
the three hundred, prevented by a sense of shame from returning to
Sparta after all his comrades had fallen, laid violent hands upon
himself in Thyrea.

Although the Spartans were engaged with these matters when the herald
arrived from Sardis to entreat them to come to the assistance of the
besieged king, yet, notwithstanding, they instantly set to work to
afford him help. They had completed their preparations, and the ships
were just ready to start, when a second message informed them that
the place had already fallen, and that Croesus was a prisoner. Deeply
grieved at his misfortune, the Spartans ceased their efforts.

The following is the way in which Sardis was taken. On the fourteenth
day of the siege Cyrus bade some horsemen ride about his lines, and
make proclamation to the whole army that he would give a reward to
the man who should first mount the wall. After this he made an assault,
but without success. His troops retired, but a certain Mardian, Hyroeades
by name, resolved to approach the citadel and attempt it at a place
where no guards were ever set. On this side the rock was so precipitous,
and the citadel (as it seemed) so impregnable, that no fear was entertained
of its being carried in this place. Here was the only portion of the
circuit round which their old king Meles did not carry the lion which
his leman bore to him. For when the Telmessians had declared that
if the lion were taken round the defences, Sardis would be impregnable,
and Meles, in consequence, carried it round the rest of the fortress
where the citadel seemed open to attack, he scorned to take it round
this side, which he looked on as a sheer precipice, and therefore
absolutely secure. It is on that side of the city which faces Mount
Tmolus. Hyroeades, however, having the day before observed a Lydian
soldier descend the rock after a helmet that had rolled down from
the top, and having seen him pick it up and carry it back, thought
over what he had witnessed, and formed his plan. He climbed the rock
himself, and other Persians followed in his track, until a large number
had mounted to the top. Thus was Sardis taken, and given up entirely
to pillage.

With respect to Croesus himself, this is what befell him at the taking
of the town. He had a son, of whom I made mention above, a worthy
youth, whose only defect was that he was deaf and dumb. In the days
of his prosperity Croesus had done the utmost that be could for him,
and among other plans which he had devised, had sent to Delphi to
consult the oracle on his behalf. The answer which he had received
from the Pythoness ran thus:-

Lydian, wide-ruling monarch, thou wondrous simple Croesus,

Wish not ever to hear in thy palace the voice thou hast prayed for

Uttering intelligent sounds. Far better thy son should be silent!

Ah! woe worth the day when thine car shall first list to his


When the town was taken, one of the Persians was just going to kill
Croesus, not knowing who he was. Croesus saw the man coming, but under
the pressure of his affliction, did not care to avoid the blow, not
minding whether or no he died beneath the stroke. Then this son of
his, who was voiceless, beholding the Persian as he rushed towards
Croesus, in the agony of his fear and grief burst into speech, and
said, “Man, do not kill Croesus.” This was the first time that he
had ever spoken a word, but afterwards he retained the power of speech
for the remainder of his life.

Thus was Sardis taken by the Persians, and Croesus himself fell into
their hands, after having reigned fourteen years, and been besieged
in his capital fourteen days; thus too did Croesus fulfill the oracle,
which said that he should destroy a mighty empire by destroying his
own. Then the Persians who had made Croesus prisoner brought him before
Cyrus. Now a vast pile had been raised by his orders, and Croesus,
laden with fetters, was placed upon it, and with him twice seven of
the sons of the Lydians. I know not whether Cyrus was minded to make
an offering of the to some god or other, or whether he had vowed a
vow and was performing it, or whether, as may well be, he had heard
that Croesus was a holy man, and so wished to see if any of the heavenly
powers would appear to save him from being burnt alive. However it
might be, Cyrus was thus engaged, and Croesus was already on the pile,
when it entered his mind in the depth of his woe that there was a
divine warning in the words which had come to him from the lips of
Solon, “No one while he lives is happy.” When this thought smote him
he fetched a long breath, and breaking his deep silence, groaned out
aloud, thrice uttering the name of Solon. Cyrus caught the sounds,
and bade the interpreters inquire of Croesus who it was he called
on. They drew near and asked him, but he held his peace, and for a
long time made no answer to their questionings, until at length, forced
to say something, he exclaimed, “One I would give much to see converse
with every monarch.” Not knowing what he meant by this reply, the
interpreters begged him to explain himself; and as they pressed for
an answer, and grew to be troublesome, he told them how, a long time
before, Solon, an Athenian, had come and seen all his splendour, and
made light of it; and how whatever he had said to him had fallen out
exactly as he foreshowed, although it was nothing that especially
concerned him, but applied to all mankind alike, and most to those
who seemed to themselves happy. Meanwhile, as he thus spoke, the pile
was lighted, and the outer portion began to blaze. Then Cyrus, hearing
from the interpreters what Croesus had said, relented, bethinking
himself that he too was a man, and that it was a fellow-man, and one
who had once been as blessed by fortune as himself, that he was burning
alive; afraid, moreover, of retribution, and full of the thought that
whatever is human is insecure. So he bade them quench the blazing
fire as quickly as they could, and take down Croesus and the other
Lydians, which they tried to do, but the flames were not to be mastered.

Then, the Lydians say that Croesus, perceiving by the efforts made
to quench the fire that Cyrus had relented, and seeing also that all
was in vain, and that the men could not get the fire under, called
with a loud voice upon the god Apollo, and prayed him, if he ever
received at his hands any acceptable gift, to come to his aid, and
deliver him from his present danger. As thus with tears he besought
the god, suddenly, though up to that time the sky had been clear and
the day without a breath of wind, dark clouds gathered, and the storm
burst over their heads with rain of such violence, that the flames
were speedily extinguished. Cyrus, convinced by this that Croesus
was a good man and a favourite of heaven, asked him after he was taken
off the pile, “Who it was that had persuaded him to lead an army into
his country, and so become his foe rather than continue his friend?”
to which Croesus made answer as follows: “What I did, oh! king, was
to thy advantage and to my own loss. If there be blame, it rests with
the god of the Greeks, who encouraged me to begin the war. No one
is so foolish as to prefer war to peace, in which, instead of sons
burying their fathers, fathers bury their sons. But the gods willed
it so.”

Thus did Croesus speak. Cyrus then ordered his fetters to be taken
off, and made him sit down near himself, and paid him much respect,
looking upon him, as did also the courtiers, with a sort of wonder.
Croesus, wrapped in thought, uttered no word. After a while, happening
to turn and perceive the Persian soldiers engaged in plundering the
town, he said to Cyrus, “May I now tell thee, oh! king, what I have
in my mind, or is silence best?” Cyrus bade him speak his mind boldly.
Then he put this question: “What is it, oh! Cyrus, which those men
yonder are doing so busily?” “Plundering thy city,” Cyrus answered,
“and carrying off thy riches.” “Not my city,” rejoined the other,
“nor my riches. They are not mine any more. It is thy wealth which
they are pillaging.”

Cyrus, struck by what Croesus had said, bade all the court to withdraw,
and then asked Croesus what he thought it best for him to do as regarded
the plundering. Croesus answered, “Now that the gods have made me
thy slave, oh! Cyrus, it seems to me that it is my part, if I see
anything to thy advantage, to show it to thee. Thy subjects, the Persians,
are a poor people with a proud spirit. If then thou lettest them pillage
and possess themselves of great wealth, I will tell thee what thou
hast to expect at their hands. The man who gets the most, look to
having him rebel against thee. Now then, if my words please thee,
do thus, oh! king:- Let some of thy bodyguards be placed as sentinels
at each of the city gates, and let them take their booty from the
soldiers as they leave the town, and tell them that they do so because
the tenths are due to Jupiter. So wilt thou escape the hatred they
would feel if the plunder were taken away from them by force; and
they, seeing that what is proposed is just, will do it willingly.”

Cyrus was beyond measure pleased with this advice, so excellent did
it seem to him. He praised Croesus highly, and gave orders to his
bodyguard to do as he had suggested. Then, turning to Croesus, he
said, “Oh! Croesus, I see that thou are resolved both in speech and
act to show thyself a virtuous prince: ask me, therefore, whatever
thou wilt as a gift at this moment.” Croesus replied, “Oh! my lord,
if thou wilt suffer me to send these fetters to the god of the Greeks,
whom I once honoured above all other gods, and ask him if it is his
wont to deceive his benefactors- that will be the highest favour thou
canst confer on me.” Cyrus upon this inquired what charge he had to
make against the god. Then Croesus gave him a full account of all
his projects, and of the answers of the oracle, and of the offerings
which he had sent, on which he dwelt especially, and told him how
it was the encouragement given him by the oracle which had led him
to make war upon Persia. All this he related, and at the end again
besought permission to reproach the god with his behaviour. Cyrus
answered with a laugh, “This I readily grant thee, and whatever else
thou shalt at any time ask at my hands.” Croesus, finding his request
allowed, sent certain Lydians to Delphi, enjoining them to lay his
fetters upon the threshold of the temple, and ask the god, “If he
were not ashamed of having encouraged him, as the destined destroyer
of the empire of Cyrus, to begin a war with Persia, of which such
were the first-fruits?” As they said this they were to point to the
fetters- and further they were to inquire, “If it was the wont of
the Greek gods to be ungrateful?”

The Lydians went to Delphi and delivered their message, on which the
Pythoness is said to have replied- “It is not possible even for a
god to escape the decree of destiny. Croesus has been punished for
the sin of his fifth ancestor, who, when he was one of the bodyguard
of the Heraclides, joined in a woman’s fraud, and, slaying his master,
wrongfully seized the throne. Apollo was anxious that the fall of
Sardis should not happen in the lifetime of Croesus, but be delayed
to his son’s days; he could not, however, persuade the Fates. All
that they were willing to allow he took and gave to Croesus. Let Croesus
know that Apollo delayed the taking of Sardis three full years, and
that he is thus a prisoner three years later than was his destiny.
Moreover it was Apollo who saved him from the burning pile. Nor has
Croesus any right to complain with respect to the oracular answer
which he received. For when the god told him that, if he attacked
the Persians, he would destroy a mighty empire, he ought, if he had
been wise, to have sent again and inquired which empire was meant,
that of Cyrus or his own; but if he neither understood what was said,
nor took the trouble to seek for enlightenment, he has only himself
to blame for the result. Besides, he had misunderstood the last answer
which had been given him about the mule. Cyrus was that mule. For
the parents of Cyrus were of different races, and of different conditions-
his mother a Median princess, daughter of King Astyages, and his father
a Persian and a subject, who, though so far beneath her in all respects,
had married his royal mistress.”

Such was the answer of the Pythoness. The Lydians returned to Sardis
and communicated it to Croesus, who confessed, on hearing it, that
the fault was his, not the god’s. Such was the way in which Ionia
was first conquered, and so was the empire of Croesus brought to a

Besides the offerings which have been already mentioned, there are
many others in various parts of Greece presented by Croesus; as at
Thebes in Boeotia, where there is a golden tripod, dedicated by him
to Ismenian Apollo; at Ephesus, where the golden heifers, and most
of the columns are his gift; and at Delphi, in the temple of Pronaia,
where there is a huge shield in gold, which he gave. All these offerings
were still in existence in my day; many others have perished: among
them those which he dedicated at Branchidae in Milesia, equal in weight,
as I am informed, and in all respects like to those at Delphi. The
Delphian presents, and those sent to Amphiaraus, came from his own
private property, being the first-fruits of the fortune which he inherited
from his father; his other offerings came from the riches of an enemy,
who, before he mounted the throne, headed a party against him, with
the view of obtaining the crown of Lydia for Pantaleon. This Pantaleon
was a son of Alyattes, but by a different mother from Croesus; for
the mother of Croesus was a Carian woman, but the mother of Pantaleon
an Ionian. When, by the appointment of his father, Croesus obtained
the kingly dignity, he seized the man who had plotted against him,
and broke him upon the wheel. His property, which he had previously
devoted to the service of the gods, Croesus applied in the way mentioned
above. This is all I shall say about his offerings.

Lydia, unlike most other countries, scarcely offers any wonders for
the historian to describe, except the gold-dust which is washed down
from the range of Tmolus. It has, however, one structure of enormous
size, only inferior to the monuments of Egypt and Babylon. This is
the tomb of Alyattes, the father of Croesus, the base of which is
formed of immense blocks of stone, the rest being a vast mound of
earth. It was raised by the joint labour of the tradesmen, handicraftsmen,
and courtesans of Sardis, and had at the top five stone pillars, which
remained to my day, with inscriptions cut on them, showing how much
of the work was done by each class of workpeople. It appeared on measurement
that the portion of the courtesans was the largest. The daughters
of the common people in Lydia, one and all, pursue this traffic, wishing
to collect money for their portions. They continue the practice till
they marry; and are wont to contract themselves in marriage. The tomb
is six stades and two plethra in circumference; its breadth is thirteen
plethra. Close to the tomb is a large lake, which the Lydians say
is never dry. They call it the Lake Gygaea.

The Lydians have very nearly the same customs as the Greeks, with
the exception that these last do not bring up their girls in the same
way. So far as we have any knowledge, they were the first nation to
introduce the use of gold and silver coin, and the first who sold
goods by retail. They claim also the invention of all the games which
are common to them with the Greeks. These they declare that they invented
about the time when they colonised Tyrrhenia, an event of which they
give the following account. In the days of Atys, the son of Manes,
there was great scarcity through the whole land of Lydia. For some
time the Lydians bore the affliction patiently, but finding that it
did not pass away, they set to work to devise remedies for the evil.
Various expedients were discovered by various persons; dice, and huckle-bones,
and ball, and all such games were invented, except tables, the invention
of which they do not claim as theirs. The plan adopted against the
famine was to engage in games one day so entirely as not to feel any
craving for food, and the next day to eat and abstain from games.
In this way they passed eighteen years. Still the affliction continued
and even became more grievous. So the king determined to divide the
nation in half, and to make the two portions draw lots, the one to
stay, the other to leave the land. He would continue to reign over
those whose lot it should be to remain behind; the emigrants should
have his son Tyrrhenus for their leader. The lot was cast, and they
who had to emigrate went down to Smyrna, and built themselves ships,
in which, after they had put on board all needful stores, they sailed
away in search of new homes and better sustenance. After sailing past
many countries they came to Umbria, where they built cities for themselves,
and fixed their residence. Their former name of Lydians they laid
aside, and called themselves after the name of the king’s son, who
led the colony, Tyrrhenians.

Thus far I have been engaged in showing how the Lydians were brought
under the Persian yoke. The course of my history now compels me to
inquire who this Cyrus was by whom the Lydian empire was destroyed,
and by what means the Persians had become the lords paramount of Asia.
And herein I shall follow those Persian authorities whose object it
appears to be not to magnify the exploits of Cyrus, but to relate
the simple truth. I know besides three ways in which the story of
Cyrus is told, all differing from my own narrative.

The Assyrians had held the Empire of Upper Asia for the space of five
hundred and twenty years, when the Medes set the example of revolt
from their authority. They took arms for the recovery of their freedom,
and fought a battle with the Assyrians, in which they behaved with
such gallantry as to shake off the yoke of servitude, and to become
a free people. Upon their success the other nations also revolted
and regained their independence.

Thus the nations over that whole extent of country obtained the blessing
of self-government, but they fell again under the sway of kings, in
the manner which I will now relate. There was a certain Mede named
Deioces, son of Phraortes, a man of much wisdom, who had conceived
the desire of obtaining to himself the sovereign power. In furtherance
of his ambition, therefore, he formed and carried into execution the
following scheme. As the Medes at that time dwelt in scattered villages
without any central authority, and lawlessness in consequence prevailed
throughout the land, Deioces, who was already a man of mark in his
own village, applied himself with greater zeal and earnestness than
ever before to the practice of justice among his fellows. It was his
conviction that justice and injustice are engaged in perpetual war
with one another. He therefore began his course of conduct, and presently
the men of his village, observing his integrity, chose him to be the
arbiter of all their disputes. Bent on obtaining the sovereign power,
he showed himself an honest and an upright judge, and by these means
gained such credit with his fellow-citizens as to attract the attention
of those who lived in the surrounding villages. They had long been
suffering from unjust and oppressive judgments; so that, when they
heard of the singular uprightness of Deioces, and of the equity of
his decisions, they joyfully had recourse to him in the various quarrels
and suits that arose, until at last they came to put confidence in
no one else.

The number of complaints brought before him continually increasing,
as people learnt more and more the fairness of his judgments, Deioces,
feeling himself now all important, announced that he did not intend
any longer to hear causes, and appeared no more in the seat in which
he had been accustomed to sit and administer justice. “It did not
square with his interests,” he said, “to spend the whole day in regulating
other men’s affairs to the neglect of his own.” Hereupon robbery and
lawlessness broke out afresh, and prevailed through the country even
more than heretofore; wherefore the Medes assembled from all quarters,
and held a consultation on the state of affairs. The speakers, as
I think, were chiefly friends of Deioces. “We cannot possibly,” they
said, “go on living in this country if things continue as they now
are; let us therefore set a king over us, that so the land may be
well governed, and we ourselves may be able to attend to our own affairs,
and not be forced to quit our country on account of anarchy.” The
assembly was persuaded by these arguments, and resolved to appoint
a king.

It followed to determine who should be chosen to the office. When
this debate began the claims of Deioces and his praises were at once
in every mouth; so that presently all agreed that he should be king.
Upon this he required a palace to be built for him suitable to his
rank, and a guard to be given him for his person. The Medes complied,
and built him a strong and large palace, on a spot which he himself
pointed out, and likewise gave him liberty to choose himself a bodyguard
from the whole nation. Thus settled upon the throne, he further required
them to build a single great city, and, disregarding the petty towns
in which they had formerly dwelt, make the new capital the object
of their chief attention. The Medes were again obedient, and built
the city now called Agbatana, the walls of which are of great size
and strength, rising in circles one within the other. The plan of
the place is that each of the walls should out-top the one beyond
it by the battlements. The nature of the ground, which is a gentle
hill, favours this arrangement in some degree, but it was mainly effected
by art. The number of the circles is seven, the royal palace and the
treasuries standing within the last. The circuit of the outer wall
is very nearly the same with that of Athens. Of this wall the battlements
are white, of the next black, of the third scarlet, of the fourth
blue, of the fifth orange; all these are coloured with paint. The
two last have their battlements coated respectively with silver and

All these fortifications Deioces caused to be raised for himself and
his own palace. The people were required to build their dwellings
outside the circuit of the walls. When the town was finished, he proceeded
to arrange the ceremonial. He allowed no one to have direct access
to the person of the king, but made all communication pass through
the hands of messengers, and forbade the king to be seen by his subjects.
He also made it an offence for any one whatsoever to laugh or spit
in the royal presence. This ceremonial, of which he was the first
inventor, Deioces established for his own security, fearing that his
compeers, who were brought up together with him, and were of as good
family as he, and no whit inferior to him in manly qualities, if they
saw him frequently would be pained at the sight, and would therefore
be likely to conspire against him; whereas if they did not see him,
they would think him quite a different sort of being from themselves.

After completing these arrangements, and firmly settling himself upon
the throne, Deioces continued to administer justice with the same
strictness as before. Causes were stated in writing, and sent in to
the king, who passed his judgment upon the contents, and transmitted
his decisions to the parties concerned: besides which he had spies
and eavesdroppers in all parts of his dominions, and if he heard of
any act of oppression, he sent for the guilty party, and awarded him
the punishment meet for his offence.

Thus Deioces collected the Medes into a nation, and ruled over them
alone. Now these are the tribes of which they consist: the Busae,
the Paretaceni, the Struchates, the Arizanti, the Budii, and the Magi.

Having reigned three-and-fifty years, Deioces was at his death succeeded
by his son Phraortes. This prince, not satisfied with a dominion which
did not extend beyond the single nation of the Medes, began by attacking
the Persians; and marching an army into their country, brought them
under the Median yoke before any other people. After this success,
being now at the head of two nations, both of them powerful, he proceeded
to conquer Asia, overrunning province after province. At last he engaged
in war with the Assyrians- those Assyrians, I mean, to whom Nineveh
belonged, who were formerly the lords of Asia. At present they stood
alone by the revolt and desertion of their allies, yet still their
internal condition was as flourishing as ever. Phraortes attacked
them, but perished in the expedition with the greater part of his
army, after having reigned over the Medes two-and-twenty years.

On the death of Phraortes his son Cyaxares ascended the throne. Of
him it is reported that he was still more war-like than any of his
ancestors, and that he was the first who gave organisation to an Asiatic
army, dividing the troops into companies, and forming distinct bodies
of the spearmen, the archers, and the cavalry, who before his time
had been mingled in one mass, and confused together. He it was who
fought against the Lydians on the occasion when the day was changed
suddenly into night, and who brought under his dominion the whole
of Asia beyond the Halys. This prince, collecting together all the
nations which owned his sway, marched against Nineveh, resolved to
avenge his father, and cherishing a hope that he might succeed in
taking the town. A battle was fought, in which the Assyrians suffered
a defeat, and Cyaxares had already begun the siege of the place, when
a numerous horde of Scyths, under their king Madyes, son of Prtotohyes,
burst into Asia in pursuit of the Cimmerians whom they had driven
out of Europe, and entered the Median territory.

The distance from the Palus Maeotis to the river Phasis and the Colchians
is thirty days’ journey for a lightly-equipped traveller. From Colchis
to cross into Media does not take long- there is only a single intervening
nation, the Saspirians, passing whom you find yourself in Media. This
however was not the road followed by the Scythians, who turned out
of the straight course, and took the upper route, which is much longer,
keeping the Caucasus upon their right. The Scythians, having thus
invaded Media, were opposed by the Medes, who gave them battle, but,
being defeated, lost their empire. The Scythians became masters of

After this they marched forward with the design of invading Egypt.
When they had reached Palestine, however, Psammetichus the Egyptian
king met them with gifts and prayers, and prevailed on them to advance
no further. On their return, passing through Ascalon, a city of Syria,
the greater part of them went their way without doing any damage;
but some few who lagged behind pillaged the temple of Celestial Venus.
I have inquired and find that the temple at Ascalon is the most ancient
of all the temples to this goddess; for the one in Cyprus, as the
Cyprians themselves admit, was built in imitation of it; and that
in Cythera was erected by the Phoenicians, who belong to this part
of Syria. The Scythians who plundered the temple were punished by
the goddess with the female sickness, which still attaches to their
posterity. They themselves confess that they are afflicted with the
disease for this reason, and travellers who visit Scythia can see
what sort of a disease it is. Those who suffer from it are called

The dominion of the Scythians over Asia lasted eight-and-twenty years,
during which time their insolence and oppression spread ruin on every
side. For besides the regular tribute, they exacted from the several
nations additional imposts, which they fixed at pleasure; and further,
they scoured the country and plundered every one of whatever they
could. At length Cyaxares and the Medes invited the greater part of
them to a banquet, and made them drunk with wine, after which they
were all massacred. The Medes then recovered their empire, and had
the same extent of dominion as before. They took Nineveh- I will relate
how in another history- and conquered all Assyria except the district
of Babylonia. After this Cyaxares died, having reigned over the Medes,
if we include the time of the Scythian rule, forty years.

Astyages, the son of Cyaxares, succeeded to the throne. He had a daughter
who was named Mandane concerning whom he had a wonderful dream. He
dreamt that from her such a stream of water flowed forth as not only
to fill his capital, but to flood the whole of Asia. This vision he
laid before such of the Magi as had the gift of interpreting dreams,
who expounded its meaning to him in full, whereat he was greatly terrified.
On this account, when his daughter was now of ripe age, he would not
give her in marriage to any of the Medes who were of suitable rank,
lest the dream should be accomplished; but he married her to a Persian
of good family indeed, but of a quiet temper, whom he looked on as
much inferior to a Mede of even middle condition.

Thus Cambyses (for so was the Persian called) wedded Mandane, and
took her to his home, after which, in the very first year, Astyages
saw another vision. He fancied that a vine grew from the womb of his
daughter, and overshadowed the whole of Asia. After this dream, which
he submitted also to the interpreters, he sent to Persia and fetched
away Mandane, who was now with child, and was not far from her time.
On her arrival he set a watch over her, intending to destroy the child
to which she should give birth; for the Magian interpreters had expounded
the vision to foreshow that the offspring of his daughter would reign
over Asia in his stead. To guard against this, Astyages, as soon as
Cyrus was born, sent for Harpagus, a man of his own house and the
most faithful of the Medes, to whom he was wont to entrust all his
affairs, and addressed him thus- “Harpagus, I beseech thee neglect
not the business with which I am about to charge thee; neither betray
thou the interests of thy lord for others’ sake, lest thou bring destruction
on thine own head at some future time. Take the child born of Mandane
my daughter; carry him with thee to thy home and slay him there. Then
bury him as thou wilt.” “Oh! king,” replied the other, “never in time
past did Harpagus disoblige thee in anything, and be sure that through
all future time he will be careful in nothing to offend. If therefore
it be thy will that this thing be done, it is for me to serve thee
with all diligence.”

When Harpagus had thus answered, the child was given into his hands,
clothed in the garb of death, and he hastened weeping to his home.
There on his arrival he found his wife, to whom he told all that Astyages
had said. “What then,” said she, “is it now in thy heart to do?” “Not
what Astyages requires,” he answered; “no, he may be madder and more
frantic still than he is now, but I will not be the man to work his
will, or lend a helping hand to such a murder as this. Many things
forbid my slaying him. In the first place the boy is my own kith and
kin; and next Astyages is old, and has no son. If then when he dies
the crown should go to his daughter- that daughter whose child he
now wishes to slay by my hand- what remains for me but danger of the
fearfullest kind? For my own safety, indeed, the child must die; but
some one belonging to Astyages must take his life, not I or mine.”

So saying he sent off a messenger to fetch a certain Mitradates, one
of the herdsmen of Astyages, whose pasturages he knew to be the fittest
for his purpose, lying as they did among mountains infested with wild
beasts. This man was married to one of the king’s female slaves, whose
Median name was Spaco, which is in Greek Cyno, since in the Median
tongue the word “Spaca” means a bitch. The mountains, on the skirts
of which his cattle grazed, lie to the north of Agbatana, towards
the Euxine. That part of Media which borders on the Saspirians is
an elevated tract, very mountainous, and covered with forests, while
the rest of the Median territory is entirely level ground. On the
arrival of the herdsman, who came at the hasty summons, Harpagus said
to him- “Astyages requires thee to take this child and lay him in
the wildest part of the hills, where he will be sure to die speedily.
And he bade me tell thee, that if thou dost not kill the boy, but
anyhow allowest him to escape, he will put thee to the most painful
of deaths. I myself am appointed to see the child exposed.”

The herdsman on hearing this took the child in his arms, and went
back the way he had come till he reached the folds. There, providentially,
his wife, who had been expecting daily to be put to bed, had just,
during the absence of her husband, been delivered of a child. Both
the herdsman and his wife were uneasy on each other’s account, the
former fearful because his wife was so near her time, the woman alarmed
because it was a new thing for her husband to be sent for by Harpagus.
When therefore he came into the house upon his return, his wife, seeing
him arrive so unexpectedly, was the first to speak, and begged to
know why Harpagus had sent for him in such a hurry. “Wife,” said he,
“when I got to the town I saw and heard such things as I would to
heaven I had never seen such things as I would to heaven had never
happened to our masters. Every one was weeping in Harpagus’s house.
It quite frightened me, but I went in. The moment I stepped inside,
what should I see but a baby lying on the floor, panting and whimpering,
and all covered with gold, and wrapped in clothes of such beautiful
colours. Harpagus saw me, and directly ordered me to take the child
my arms and carry him off, and what was I to do with him, think you?
Why, to lay him in the mountains, where the wild beasts are most plentiful.
And he told me it was the king himself that ordered it to be done,
and he threatened me with such dreadful things if I failed. So I took
the child up in my arms, and carried him along. I thought it might
be the son of one of the household slaves. I did wonder certainly
to see the gold and the beautiful baby-clothes, and I could not think
why there was such a weeping in Harpagus’s house. Well, very soon,
as I came along, I got at the truth. They sent a servant with me to
show me the way out of the town, and to leave the baby in my hands;
and he told me that the child’s mother is the king’s daughter Mandane,
and his father Cambyses, the son of Cyrus; and that the king orders
him to be killed; and look, here the child is.”

With this the herdsman uncovered the infant, and showed him to his
wife, who, when she saw him, and observed how fine a child and how
beautiful he was, burst into tears, and clinging to the knees of her
husband, besought him on no account to expose the babe; to which he
answered, that it was not possible for him to do otherwise, as Harpagus
would be sure to send persons to see and report to him, and he was
to suffer a most cruel death if he disobeyed. Failing thus in her
first attempt to persuade her husband, the woman spoke a second time,
saying, “If then there is no persuading thee, and a child must needs
be seen exposed upon the mountains, at least do thus. The child of
which I have just been delivered is stillborn; take it and lay it
on the hills, and let us bring up as our own the child of the daughter
of Astyages. So shalt thou not be charged with unfaithfulness to thy
lord, nor shall we have managed badly for ourselves. Our dead babe
will have a royal funeral, and this living child will not be deprived
of life.”

It seemed to the herdsman that this advice was the best under the
circumstances. He therefore followed it without loss of time. The
child which he had intended to put to death he gave over to his wife,
and his own dead child he put in the cradle wherein he had carried
the other, clothing it first in all the other’s costly attire, and
taking it in his arms he laid it in the wildest place of all the mountain-range.
When the child had been three days exposed, leaving one of his helpers
to watch the body, he started off for the city, and going straight
to Harpagus’s house, declared himself ready to show the corpse of
the boy. Harpagus sent certain of his bodyguard, on whom he had the
firmest reliance, to view the body for him, and, satisfied with their
seeing it, gave orders for the funeral. Thus was the herdsman’s child
buried, and the other child, who was afterwards known by the name
of Cyrus, was taken by the herdsman’s wife, and brought up under a
different name.

When the boy was in his tenth year, an accident which I will now relate,
caused it to be discovered who he was. He was at play one day in the
village where the folds of the cattle were, along with the boys of
his own age, in the street. The other boys who were playing with him
chose the cowherd’s son, as he was called, to be their king. He then
proceeded to order them about some he set to build him houses, others
he made his guards, one of them was to be the king’s eye, another
had the office of carrying his messages; all had some task or other.
Among the boys there was one, the son of Artembares, a Mede of distinction,
who refused to do what Cyrus had set him. Cyrus told the other boys
to take him into custody, and when his orders were obeyed, he chastised
him most severely with the whip. The son of Artembares, as soon as
he was let go, full of rage at treatment so little befitting his rank,
hastened to the city and complained bitterly to his father of what
had been done to him by Cyrus. He did not, of course, say “Cyrus,”
by which name the boy was not yet known, but called him the son of
the king’s cowherd. Artembares, in the heat of his passion, went to
Astyages, accompanied by his son, and made complaint of the gross
injury which had been done him. Pointing to the boy’s shoulders, he
exclaimed, “Thus, oh! king, has thy slave, the son of a cowherd, heaped
insult upon u